Renaissance in reading aloud could bring benefits for older people.

February 22nd 2017

Renaissance in reading aloud could bring benefits for older people.Care UK’s expert on caring for people with dementia is encouraging families and friends to consider reading aloud as an activity that can bring therapeutic benefits to older people.

To celebrate World Read Aloud Day, Care UK worked with Britain’s first Storyteller  Laureate,Taffy Thomas MBE, to create a unique film which will help families bring back the art of telling stories and reading aloud. And Care UK’s in-house dementia expert Debra Fox is keen to remind us that reading aloud can be for everyone.

Debra said: “Many older people love to listen to things being read aloud. It may be that their eyesight isn’t so good or frailty in the arms and hands makes it hard to hold a book or newspaper so it’s the only way that they can access the printed word. People with dementia may no longer be able to read for themselves but may well enjoy hearing stories, poems, letter or even local news read to them by someone else.

“Not only does it provide companionship and interest but the spoken word can prompt memories and lead to conversations about stories of their own that might have been long forgotten. Whether you’re visiting someone in a care home or inviting them to your house for tea, reading aloud together is a beneficial pastime that deserves to be revived.”

The reading aloud advice film featuring Taffy Thomas MBE was premiered at many of Care UK’s homes up and down the country last week with invitations extended to relatives of residents, social care professionals and local people. Watch the video here.

Taffy offers the following tips for reading with older people:

  • Make the story your own. Don’t be afraid to stray from the text
  • Give your listener their words worth
  • Find a quiet place to read to your listener
  • Make it your business to find out what stories they like. It can make your relationship with them even more special
  • Click for more tips

Taffy Thomas MBE is patron of The Society for Storytelling and is currently the most experienced English storyteller in the country, having performed globally with a repertoire of more than 300 stories.

Taffy said: “I’m thrilled to be supporting Care UK with this brilliant initiative to celebrate World Read Aloud Day. I want to help encourage people to share the benefits of storytelling and embrace the power of reading aloud, as no matter what their age or ability, this is an activity for all.”

Debra Fox explained why so many Care UK care homes took part in World Read Aloud Day: “I think, as a society, we’ve long overlooked the therapeutic benefits for older people of reading aloud. If someone is living with dementia it can help calm them and prompt reminiscence, and it is soothing for those unable to communicate. It is also an enjoyable activity that family and friends can do with their loved one when paying them a visit.”

Debra also offers her own tips for reading aloud to an older friend or relative:

  • Reading poetry aloud is a good entry point for people. It’s often a short story or concept and provides a rhythm which is good to read and listen to. Often people will remember and join in the traditional poems which were often learnt by rote in schools.
  • Don’t be surprised if people close their eyes to listen to the story. It often helps people to listen and let their imagination takeover.
  • Enjoy yourself. You may be someone who prefers to read to an individual or you may be able to use different voices for characters and bring the story to life for a group of people. Whichever way, the experience of telling and listening should be enjoyable.

World Read Aloud Day encourages children, teenagers and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people.